We love coffee and try to keep a well-rounded selection on hand for your well-rounded cup! We believe that organic, sustainably grown coffees not only are helping to create some very high quality coffee, but are equalizing a relationship (from farmer to consumer, and everything in between) that has been pretty unfair up until now. Because coffee is one of the most traded commodities in the world, it benefits all who have a hand in the industry (again, from farmer to consumer) to put more emphasis on educating ourselves on the issues surrounding the coffee trade. Most of the coffee we carry at Rainbow Grocery is organic and Fair Trade Certified.
There are two, very different types of coffee beans - Arabica and Robusta. Arabica is the better quality of the two, growing best at altitudes between 2500 and 6500 feet. Its cultivation demands more care than Robusta and the bean possesses a less bitter taste. Robusta, mainly grown in Brazil and parts of Africa, is a hardier, more pest/disease resistant bean containing about twice the caffeine content of Arabica. Robusta is often used for instant coffees and supermarket-grade blends. The coffees are also botanically different. Arabica's greater complexity derives from 44 chromosomes-twice the number of Robusta.
Most green coffee is roasted at about 400 degrees. Light Roast beans produce coffees with a sharper, more acidic taste, which is why they are generally not used for espresso. Dark Roast beans tend to have a fuller flavor. As the roast darkens, caffeine and acidity decrease. Extreme Dark Roasts tend to have a smoky flavor better suited for brewed coffee rather than espresso.
In the U.S., 100% Arabica beans are generally used for gourmet blends. In Italy, some Robusta beans will often be added for the additional crema caffeine and complexity that they contribute to the blend. However, the subject of adding Robusta in espresso is greatly debated and really comes down to personal preference.
Today, many roasters are packaging their beans in airtight bags with a one-way valve, which allows the gasses coffee releases to escape, without the beans being exposed to damaging air. This type of packaging helps retard deterioration. Once exposed to the air, and if properly stored, beans will stay reasonably fresh for 7-10 days. It is recommended that beans be stored in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool, dark place. It is not recommended to store beans in the refrigerator, because coffee tends to absorb other flavors. Freezing coffee can also have a damaging effect, and is not recommended unless you need to store coffee for a prolonged period of time. Ideally, you should try to purchase and use the roasted beans on a weekly basis.